Too much has been announced today for me to fully process this tidbit of news about Daybreak, long a topic of study around here, and NantWorks, about which I can find little to nothing about on the web. They are a holding company of some sort with a variety of ventures, all of which have the “Nant” prefix as part of their name.
So the two companies have announced a joint venture, a term that takes me back to the Gorbachev era and my Soviet Studies class… crap, this is Daybreak, I shouldn’t bring up Russians… but which has meaning outside of that context. It is just where my brain goes.
Anyway, the press release has a lot of fluff and misdirection, but I think the upshot is that they want to join forces, each bringing their alleged expertise to create NantG Mobile, which will, if I am deciphering it correctly, end up with new mobile and Windows versions of H1Z1 which will now be called Z1 Battle Royale, because they haven’t changed the name enough already?
Do they want to take back the market from Fortnite, which ate PUBG‘s lunch after PUBG ate H1Z1‘s lunch by creating a new esports league complete with physical location? Also, the LA Times will start covering esports in their sports section, because newspaper coverage was what was holding back esports all this time I guess.
Oh, and a mobile version of EverQuest as well. Because reasons?
Anyway, the press release quoted for posterity:
NANTWORKS MAKES STRATEGIC INVESTMENT IN DAYBREAK GAME COMPANY AND ESTABLISHES VIDEO GAME PUBLISHING JOINT VENTURE, NANTG MOBILE
NantG Mobile to Co-Develop Next Generation Game Publishing Platform
LA Times Center and NantG Mobile to Establish E-Sports Leagues Across Multiple Games Beginning with Z1 Battle Royale, the Revitalized H1Z1 Battle Royale Game
Los Angeles – Sept. 6, 2018 – NantWorks, a diversified holding company, today announced that it has made a strategic investment in Daybreak Game Company, a leading developer and publisher of multiplayer online games. In connection with the investment, NantWorks has obtained a controlling interest in a new joint venture with Daybreak, NantG Mobile, LLC, which has been formed to develop and publish mobile versions of Daybreak’s current games – H1Z1 and EverQuest – and to build and publish video games across all platforms. In addition, the JV will now assume control and management of the current PC H1Z1 Battle Royale game. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, CEO and Chairman of NantWorks and Owner and Executive Chairman of the Los Angeles Times, will join Daybreak’s board of directors.
Daybreak Game Company is the developer and publisher of the highly popular, first-ever standalone battle royale game, H1Z1®: Battle Royale, which is currently available on PC and has amassed more than 12 million players on PlayStation 4 to date. Its games portfolio includes the EverQuest MMO franchise, PlanetSide 2, DC Universe Online, The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online. The San Diego-based gaming studio is privately owned by Jason Epstein, who serves as Chairman of the Board.
“Daybreak Games is pleased to have NantWorks as our investment partner to support and accelerate the growth of our company,” said Epstein. “Working with NantWorks, NantStudio and Dr. Soon-Shiong will allow us to maintain our cutting-edge development in the video game industry and to benefit from Nant’s technological expertise and reach as a resource.”
“I am delighted that our software capabilities at NantWorks, together with the creative expertise and infrastructure at NantStudio – which includes our low latency fiber network, will help accelerate the development of the platform at Daybreak, a company with history dating back to its origins as Sony Online Entertainment,” said Soon-Shiong. “Their achievements in the development of gaming technology have contributed greatly to this emerging field of virtual sports and we view this medium as an important media engagement engine.”
“Daybreak’s well tested game engine currently running Everquest and H1Z1, combined with the proprietary next generation mobile game engine which we will develop and launch in the joint venture, are platforms which will enable unprecedented scale and provide enjoyment to millions of simultaneous players,” said John Wiacek, NantG Mobile’s Head of Game Engine Development.
NantWorks is currently planning construction of an LA Times Center adjacent to the new Los Angeles Times headquarters in El Segundo. The LA Times Center will include an event space, LA Times production studio and e-sports arenas with fiber inter-connectivity at a global scale. The LA Times Center will serve as a convening hub for the community and a venue where NantG Mobile will establish e-sports leagues for multiple game titles, starting with Z1 Battle Royale, a revitalized PC-based version of H1Z1: Battle Royale.
Separately, the Los Angeles Times will soon be adding coverage of e-sports competitions in its Sports section.
“The growth of virtual sports has been explosive,” said Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine. “We look forward to covering all the major games companies, including Daybreak.”
So what does all that add up to? What does it mean when they refer to Daybreak’s current games as just H1Z1 and EverQuest? (Though elsewhere they mention other games, including the ones they “publish” for Standing Stone.) What does a “revitalized version of H1Z1″ mean? And what are they talking about, this well tested game engine that runs both EverQuest and H1Z1? Are we talking about the same EverQuest here, the one from 1999? Or the one from 2004? Or some new, as yet unannounced EverQuest that might be new enough to share engines with H1Z1?
And is this new esports league going to be different than the current esports league that Daybreak is doing so well with?
I do see that they very specifically got in that Daybreak is privately owned by Jason Epstein, a point they have been very unclear about in the past.
Anyway, we shall see if there are any follow up explanations or clarifications forthcoming, because it all seems about as clear as mud to me.
Hat tip to the esteemed Feldon, late of the EQ2 Wire, for spotting this.